Love's Labour's Lost: Act 5, Scene 2b

Love's Labour's Lost: Act 5, Scene 2b

in their proper habits]

FERDINAND: Fair sir, God save you! Where's the princess?

BOYET: Gone to her tent. Please it your majesty
Command me any service to her thither?

FERDINAND: That she vouchsafe me audience for one word.

BOYET: I will; and so will she, I know, my lord.    [330]


BEROWNE: This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons pease,
And utters it again when God doth please:
He is wit's pedler, and retails his wares
At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs;
And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know,
Have not the grace to grace it with such show.
This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve;
Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve;
A' can carve too, and lisp: why, this is he
That kiss'd his hand away in courtesy;                      [340]
This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,
That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice
In honourable terms: nay, he can sing
A mean most meanly; and in ushering
Mend him who can: the ladies call him sweet;
The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet:
This is the flower that smiles on every one,
To show his teeth as white as whale's bone;
And consciences, that will not die in debt,
Pay him the due of honey-tongued Boyet.                      [350]

FERDINAND: A blister on his sweet tongue, with my heart,
That put Armado's page out of his part!

BEROWNE: See where it comes! Behavior, what wert thou
Till this madman show'd thee? and what art thou now?

[Re-enter the PRINCESS, ushered by BOYET, ROSALINE,

FERDINAND: All hail, sweet madam, and fair time of day!

PRINCESS: 'Fair' in 'all hail' is foul, as I conceive.

FERDINAND: Construe my speeches better, if you may.

PRINCESS: Then wish me better; I will give you leave.

FERDINAND: We came to visit you, and purpose now
To lead you to our court; vouchsafe it then.                      [360]

PRINCESS: This field shall hold me; and so hold your vow:
Nor God, nor I, delights in perjured men.

FERDINAND: Rebuke me not for that which you provoke:
The virtue of your eye must break my oath.

PRINCESS: You nickname virtue; vice you should have spoke;
For virtue's office never breaks men's troth.
Now by my maiden honour, yet as pure
As the unsullied lily, I protest,
A world of torments though I should endure,
I would not yield to be your house's guest;                      [370]
So much I hate a breaking cause to be
Of heavenly oaths, vow'd with integrity.

FERDINAND: O, you have lived in desolation here,
Unseen, unvisited, much to our shame.

PRINCESS: Not so, my lord; it is not so, I swear;
We have had pastimes here and pleasant game:
A mess of Russians left us but of late.

FERDINAND: How, madam! Russians!

PRINCESS: Ay, in truth, my lord;
Trim gallants, full of courtship and of state.                      [380]

ROSALINE: Madam, speak true. It is not so, my lord:
My lady, to the manner of the days,
In courtesy gives undeserving praise.
We four indeed confronted were with four
In Russian habit: here they stay'd an hour,
And talk'd apace; and in that hour, my lord,
They did not bless us with one happy word.
I dare not call them fools; but this I think,
When they are thirsty, fools would fain have drink.

BEROWNE: This jest is dry to me. Fair gentle sweet,    [390]
Your wit makes wise things foolish: when we greet,
With eyes best seeing, heaven's fiery eye,
By light we lose light: your capacity
Is of that nature that to your huge store
Wise things seem foolish and rich things but poor.

ROSALINE: This proves you wise and rich, for in my eye,--

BEROWNE: I am a fool, and full of poverty.

ROSALINE: But that you take what doth to you belong,
It were a fault to snatch words from my tongue.

BEROWNE: O, I am yours, and all that I possess!    [400]

ROSALINE: All the fool mine?

BEROWNE:            I cannot give you less.

ROSALINE: Which of the vizards was it that you wore?

BEROWNE: Where? when? what vizard? why demand you this?

ROSALINE: There, then, that vizard; that superfluous case
That hid the worse and show'd the better face.

FERDINAND: We are descried; they'll mock us now downright.

DUMAIN: Let us confess and turn it to a jest.

PRINCESS: Amazed, my lord? why looks your highness sad?

ROSALINE: Help, hold his brows! he'll swoon! Why look you pale?    [410]
Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy.

BEROWNE: Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury.
Can any face of brass hold longer out?
Here stand I: lady, dart thy skill at me;
Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout;
Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance;
Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit;
And I will wish thee never more to dance,
Nor never more in Russian habit wait.
O, never will I trust to speeches penn'd,                      [420]
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy's tongue,
Nor never come in vizard to my friend,
Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper's song!
Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer-flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them; and I here protest,
By this white glove;--how white the hand, God knows!--
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd                      [430]
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes:
And, to begin, wench,--so God help me, la!--
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.

ROSALINE: Sans sans, I pray you.

BEROWNE: Yet I have a trick
Of the old rage: bear with me, I am sick;
I'll leave it by degrees. Soft, let us see:
Write, 'Lord have mercy on us' on those three;
They are infected; in their hearts it lies;
They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes;                      [440]
These lords are visited; you are not free,
For the Lord's tokens on you do I see.

PRINCESS: No, they are free that gave these tokens to us.

BEROWNE: Our states are forfeit: seek not to undo us.

ROSALINE: It is not so; for how can this be true,
That you stand forfeit, being those that sue?

BEROWNE: Peace! for I will not have to do with you.

ROSALINE: Nor shall not, if I do as I intend.

BEROWNE: Speak for yourselves; my wit is at an end.

FERDINAND: Teach us, sweet madam, for our rude transgression    [450]
Some fair excuse.

PRINCESS:            The fairest is confession.
Were not you here but even now disguised?

FERDINAND: Madam, I was.

PRINCESS:            And were you well advised?

FERDINAND: I was, fair madam.

PRINCESS:            When you then were here,
What did you whisper in your lady's ear?

FERDINAND: That more than all the world I did respect her.

PRINCESS: When she shall challenge this, you will reject her.

FERDINAND: Upon mine honour, no.

PRINCESS: Peace, peace! forbear:
Your oath once broke, you force not to forswear.                      [460]

FERDINAND: Despise me, when I break this oath of mine.

PRINCESS: I will: and therefore keep it. Rosaline,
What did the Russian whisper in your ear?

ROSALINE: Madam, he swore that he did hold me dear
As precious eyesight, and did value me
Above this world; adding thereto moreover
That he would wed me, or else die my lover.

PRINCESS: God give thee joy of him! the noble lord
Most honourably doth unhold his word.

FERDINAND: What mean you, madam? by my life, my troth,    [470]
I never swore this lady such an oath.

ROSALINE: By heaven, you did; and to confirm it plain,
You gave me this: but take it, sir, again.

FERDINAND: My faith and this the princess I did give:
I knew her by this jewel on her sleeve.

PRINCESS: Pardon me, sir, this jewel did she wear;
And Lord Berowne, I thank him, is my dear.
What, will you have me, or your pearl again?

BEROWNE: Neither of either; I remit both twain.
I see the trick on't: here was a consent,                      [480]
Knowing aforehand of our merriment,
To dash it like a Christmas comedy:
Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany,
Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick,
That smiles his cheek in years and knows the trick
To make my lady laugh when she's disposed,
Told our intents before; which once disclosed,
The ladies did change favours: and then we,
Following the signs, woo'd but the sign of she.
Now, to our perjury to add more terror,                      [490]
We are again forsworn, in will and error.
Much upon this it is: and might not you


Forestall our sport, to make us thus untrue?
Do not you know my lady's foot by the squier,
And laugh upon the apple of her eye?
And stand between her back, sir, and the fire,
Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?
You put our page out: go, you are allow'd;
Die when you will, a smock shall be your shroud.
You leer upon me, do you? there's an eye                      [500]
Wounds like a leaden sword.

BOYET: Full merrily
Hath this brave manage, this career, been run.

BEROWNE: Lo, he is tilting straight! Peace! I have done.


Welcome, pure wit! thou partest a fair fray.

[The scene continues . . .]

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This page last updated April 24, 1997. Enquiries to Michael Best,